Sixteen Years

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Today was incredibly somber for me, and I am certain other people felt this way, as well. Every year, a deep part of me re-lives 9/11. I wasn’t afraid, not for a second, but I was definitely in silent, angry shock. Sixteen years later, I still can’t believe all that has transpired since that day.

I haven’t been back home in a long time. I miss it. I’ll never stop being proud of where I come from. My city, every part of it, is deeply enmeshed in who I am. Someone told me that they like where I live now “because it’s kind of like New York, but much smaller”. Yeah, not so much.

Personal Year In Review

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I wish I had fabulous things to share here as I look back on 2016, the year itself as a complete “body of work”, as opposed to how I genuinely feel about it.

Here’s the unadulterated truth; I’m filled with mixed emotions, anger, pain, and the more I think about it, additional anger on top of the original anger, which is never a good sign. I make no apologies for my honesty. I’m many things in my imperfect human way, but dishonest isn’t on the list.

I take no issue with the company in my life, or lack thereof. I am a firm believer that we all go through hard times and that hard work, love, and prayer will get us through it. I take no issue with surviving (Life should be more than that though, right?) and having a few good days here and there (Though I am determined to not allow people to ruin my days when I’m feeling good and their moods aren’t meant for me. However, this is a process. It will not happen instantaneously.), but I do take issue with things outside my control.

I am a self-admitted control freak when it pertains to a lot of things in my life, and with other things, not so much. Overall, I’m tired of my best not being good enough, and having people remind me of my failures. Never look down upon someone unless you’re helping them up. Asking for help through tough times is not a grave sin. It’s honest, it’s real, and it’s admitting something vulnerable and scary is occurring that you cannot figure out how to face on your own. Why do we diminish that?!

I was raised to believe that as long as I do my best, it is always “good enough”, because it shows effort. And then I moved to another state where I know very few people, where “my best” is NEVER “good enough” because some unattainable level of perfection is expected at all times. It makes me feel like a bad Stepford Wife. 😦 I would not know what happiness was if a radioactive spider bit my ass. I haven’t known happiness in so long, it scares me. I feel emotions, yes, but happiness is almost never among them. How’s that for honest?

My brother has been through a torturous, evil kind of hell this year. I highly suspect that whatever was done to his heart set off a myriad of other health issues because I cannot recall a time when he wasn’t under the age of ten and on antibiotics as often as he’s been this year. He has been in and out of the hospital so many times that I’ve damn near had a multitude of nervous breakdowns every single time. I am currently waiting to hear back from a surgeon as he embarks on surgery number five in just slightly over a year; which is more surgery than he’s ever had in his entire life. It worries me on such a deep level, it’s difficult to convey.

I am immensely disheartened by how uncaring and unkind people are being towards him. At the beginning and end of each day, we only have so many family members in life, and as we’ve established, life is as short as it is long. My brother & I don’t have a lot of family, so we’ve had to rally around each other and be each other’s biggest support system through what has been, in essence, the gates of Hell. I may yell at him and get frustrated, I may say nasty things to him in the heat of the moment because he pushes my buttons, but ultimately, I’m not ignoring him or pretending he doesn’t exist in the hopes he’ll simply go away. I might not respond to a phone call or a text message when I’m sleeping, and sometimes I am guilty of ignoring him for a full twenty-four hours because I can’t handle the stress, but I do speak to my brother. I might not admit this to him, but he’s one of my best friends.

I say a painful goodbye to 2016, a year that has made me suffer in ways I can’t discuss; physically, mentally, and emotionally. I hope and pray that 2017 offers me more opportunities, better work, better pay, the same high-quality friendships I’ve maintained since day one (I’ve gotta say it; my friends are the BEST friends. They’re the first people to ask if I’m okay, to see through answers when I’m 100% NOT okay, and be as supportive as they can through crises. I would not have made it through parts of this year if it weren’t for the relationships in my life, both old and new, that have helped reinforce who I am as a person.), a real directional shift that leads me exactly where I need to be lead, and a year that allows me to achieve goals I have set for myself. The big goals, because at the moment, small goals aren’t cutting it.

I’d like to see some medical breakthroughs to help me better manage my pain and overall health. I was hit in the back with a shopping cart today at a local grocery store. This woman was on her cell phone and obviously thought she had enough room and/or didn’t even see me. I swear I am invisible to 99% of the “human race”. Initially my response was “Excuse YOU!”, but the lunatic just kept on walking, loudly debating stupidity on her phone. I did not feel it was worth pursuing in the moment, but now I am sorry I didn’t. I’m not sure if she did any real damage that wasn’t already there, but the level of pain I’m in is not something I want to take with me into the coming year, or any other year. I truly think CBD oil is in my future, as the “war on opiates” in this state is far too ridiculous to pursue with a doctor. I will, but I, like so many others, need a backup plan to help manage the pain in my life. No one should ever have to live like this.

Blessings to you all, as we say goodbye to 2016 and welcome in what will hopefully a bright New Year! 

copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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As Real As It Gets

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WARNING: Potential Triggers

I’m a ridiculously intuitive person, which has the tendency of scaring people if they aren’t used to it. I live my life paying attention to the same things most people ignore. However, it is virtually impossible to ignore your body and mind when they’re screaming at you. No matter what bad thing it is that you may be going through, it is sometimes important to take a step back, allow yourself to feel what you feel, without apologies, and regroup tomorrow.

For the majority of my life, my purpose wasn’t clear. I don’t know if I ever considered the purpose for my existence. I had so many responsibilities, and I openly admit that I took them on myself. When most people would have been taking care of themselves for their “most selfish years”, I was taking care of two sick parents. I was dealing with burying friends and loved ones, and so it took until maybe this last year for me to say “Enough!” and begin focusing on myself. I now know that it’s not selfish to be focusing on myself at this point in my life, it’s survival.

I’ve been through some awful things, a lot of which I try not to focus on. There’s a saying about not looking back or you’ll only manage to hurt your neck. In many respects, that is true. I gain nothing from reflecting on pain, but I do gain something for having survived all of it. I know that I can get through the horrible, never-ending cycle of suffering, I know I can come out the other end a far better person than I was today, but it’s not a choice one ever wants to make. It’s “kill or be killed”, so you have to regroup and “kill”, even if only metaphorically.

In times like this, a lot of people turn to religion. I am not hardcore religious, but I am spiritual. I pray several times a day for the peace and the concept that someone Higher is listening to me. That someone Higher cares. Through trial and error, I have found that most people care about themselves, and they have no room in their mind or heart for anything or anyone else. I’ll never understand it. The average person cares about five people, or less. Are we such a selfish, self-absorbed, self-centered society that we take no time at all to care about the person next to us? I often hear myself say that if a situation does not directly affect me and/or those I love/care about, then I cannot put forth the emotion to worry about it. The point though is that I actually love and care about other people. I’ve spent a long time placing others before me, and I still do it at times, but ultimately I don’t have my head up my ass. I find it easy to be emotionally present for others, and a lot less easy to be emotionally present for myself.

I’m sick of my internal dialogue because it’s so abusive. It’s something I call “self-abuse”. You’re cutting yourself apart as if you were actually cutting, but there’s no blood, the wound is entirely internal and it grows daily. You wouldn’t even feel it if someone dipped you into the Dead Sea, because you’re already a walking wound of agony.

I can point out positive things in other people, but when it comes to doing the same for myself I usually say “I’m loyal.” and when asked how I’m feeling I often say “I exist.” I will never lie and say “I’m fine.”, because then I’d be lying to myself. I’m not fine. I’ve never been less “fine”, but because I’ve been through so many “not fine”, “not okay” times, I would rather not pick at the scabs, so to speak. How much negativity does one need to focus on before they become batshit crazy and hurt someone, or themselves?

I will never lie about often feeling suicidal. Never. I will never pretend that darkness doesn’t coat aspects of my life so thickly that it’s hard to see the light. I will never say it is a topic that is “off-limits” or “taboo” because the fact of the matter is, not everyone acts on their thoughts, but those that do aren’t weak. It takes an immense amount of strength to say “I’ve had enough pain.”

Many people advocate for “assisted suicide” for terminally ill patients, but what do we advocate for when a person cannot be healed in any way, shape, or form, through no fault of their own? Do we pretend the issue doesn’t exist and go off into our own selfish bubble? Do we say “That’s not my problem?” Do we walk away? Do we ignore it?

So many people have been unable to see the signs in a loved one and have later been devastated that they chose to end their own life. Instead of thinking about how much pain THEY had to be in to go there, to reach that point, all I ever hear is “How could s/he do this to me?”, “How could they leave me behind?”, “Why didn’t s/he tell me?” Bringer of honesty: It’s NOT about you. 

It amazes me how people don’t look closely at situations or loved ones. It blows my mind how people choose to see the surface, and nothing more. It behooves me how few people ever say “I’m here for you, no matter what. And I will NOT judge.” Once a person commits suicide, people can lie ’til the cows come home, but they are absolutely judging. If you’re unaffected by the deeply personal pain of others, you aren’t human.

It is important to check in with those we love. It is important, and crucial, to look deeper. There will still be times when you will not see what a person chooses not to show, but there will also be times when a hug, a hand to hold, a kind word, a moment of inspiration, a thoughtful phone call, or card will pull a person back and show them that they mean something, that their life has value and purpose.

This will be painful for some people to read because they choose to avoid brutal truth. This may be painful for suicide survivors who are still left asking themselves “Why?” As a person who thinks about it deeply, I have very few reasons for not acting on my feelings. Those reasons become less important each day.

I am touched by the people who genuinely reach out to me in love or friendship. I am touched by the people whose actions say “I’ll always be here for you, no matter what.” But those moments, and people, are few and far between.

One day I may not be able to rely solely on my self-talk to pull me back. And the excuses you might very well hear in the wake of that will be: “I work 60+ hours a week, I have no time to talk.”, “I never returned her phone call. I feel TERRIBLE.”, “I didn’t answer her text message.”, “I stopped speaking to her because she was too honest.”, “She was so young, smart, creative, and beautiful…I don’t understand. She had her whole life ahead of her.”

No one will say “She was in so much pain, she couldn’t take it anymore and I understand.” No one. And that is truly fucking sad.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Where The Hell Does The Year Go?

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Where The Hell Does The Year Go?

Every year I’m semi-amazed I’ve survived and gotten this far: Both in life and in the day-to-day struggle. I have a lot to be grateful for.

I’ve had an incredibly rough two years. The years before that were not perfect, some were horrific in their lack of kindness, many had their battles, but this past year has humbled me in ways I never thought possible. It is very easy to lose sight of what we have in life, basic things we should all have. It’s a little too easy to take those basics for granted, until they’re taken away for long periods of time.

I read so many things where people are going through difficult shit. I choose not to advertise my problems because I do have some semblance of privacy and dignity. I also don’t feel that’s what people come here for. I know I can bitch and be myself, but do I really want to dwell on that crap? No. I want things to get better, I want to be positive, and I want to move forward. By whining, you drown in your own crap. On top of being a disgusting visual, it’s also very negative and I don’t want that, for myself or for anyone else.

I am eternally grateful for being blessed with the ability to project my voice through the written and spoken word. As I watch so many people struggle with something that comes so easy to me, I can’t help but see the differences between art and mere words. I openly admit it leaves me frustrated with a lot of people at times.

The very small group of people that matter in my life: THANK YOU. You all know who you are. I am blessed with people who talk me down from my various ledges, entertain my insanity, listen to me, commiserate with me, support me, and are loyal with kind, caring, generous hearts. I respect and appreciate the lack of drama. I respect and appreciate your love, friendship, humor, and the things so many of you go out of your way to do to make me laugh, smile, and/or cheer me up. The thoughtfulness knows no boundaries. It is amazing to know that there are people who have my back, as opposed to those who would prefer to stab me in it. Please know how appreciated you all are. I have an outrageous amount of love in my heart for all of you.

It gives me an endless amount of professional pleasure and pride to be able to bring you “Poison In Lethal Doses”. Tomorrow marks 20 years of both my experience as an editor and the amount of time I have spent writing “Poison” pieces. It feels like it all just started yesterday. I’ve grown so much as a writer that I know time has passed, yet it feels surreal to me. What I used to do and what I do today are two very different beasts. The evolution is amazing for me to see.

2015 will challenge me in my personal and professional lives. I pray it is not quite as challenging for all of you because I would not wish aspects of my life on anyone, but I do hope it challenges you in positive ways that brings an abundance of happiness into your lives.

Ultimately, my vow is to be here and be present for all of you, and for myself. I vow to finish the unfinished and move forward with things that are of the utmost importance. On a smaller note, I am going to attempt to be 98% caffeine free by February. I would prefer to use it just when I have a migraine, as opposed to using it as a stress crutch.

Big things, little things, good things, bad things. No matter what, let us be grateful for it all and what it teaches us. Life is short. It’s not always easy, and it’s a very lonely place without someone in life to turn to that understands. Tonight, no matter what it is you’re doing or believe in, stop and say a little prayer for everyone that matters to you in life. It’s not about religion or belief systems, it’s about humanity. Once you lose sight of that, it’s all downhill, so I think it’s important to remain in touch with what makes you a human-being. While not the most friendly person on the planet, I still have compassion and empathy for others. I still make an effort. I am always present for those I care about, no excuses. Practice a random act of kindness, you’ll see how good it makes you feel as well, thus serving a dual purpose. That which you send out into the world comes back to you threefold. Make it count.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and safe New Year!

copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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There Is A Place…

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In Memory of my Uncle, who passed away suddenly three years ago. Today would have been his 62nd birthday. If anyone lived life to the fullest and gave with his whole heart, it was him. He was my guide post for so much in my life, and for that I will forever be grateful.

RMP

1952-2011

“Carry on, you will always remember
Carry on, nothing equals the splendor
Surely heaven waits for you…” -Kansas

The Need For Silence

Tomorrow is Samhain, which is Halloween for the uninitiated who can’t even pronounce what I just said. I’ve taken some time this week to be quiet, to look deeply within, and to give myself some space. Every year brings a new set of challenges, and I am hoping to embark on happier ones this time around. Simply put: I am sick of the crap. Every last ounce of it. I’m ready for positive change, happy change, and I am looking forward to putting a lot of unhappiness and negativity to rest.

My only plan for tomorrow is to try hard to finish the read-through I am doing, and catch up on some little things that need to be put in the mail. Beyond that, nothing. I want a quiet day, I want to light candles at dusk, and I want a night of quality sleep. I don’t need scary movies to “get into the spirit”. I’ve already seen Sons of Anarchy and Stalker this week, I’ve had my dose of gore and I’ve been thoroughly ‘creeped out’.

It probably seems odd for someone so young to be in such desperate need of silence, but it’s honest. I already bought sweets this week and they were for myself. Okay, so I shared, but you get the point. The actual Halloween aspect doesn’t reside in my home. Samhain, on the other hand, does. It’s when I honor my loved ones who have passed away and light candles of remembrance. It’s when I keep my cats close to me and SAFE. I don’t believe in having outdoor cats, I never have and I never will. That is a personal choice because I believe that if you are going to have any kind of pet, you should do what is absolutely best for him/her and their overall well-being. When you rescue, you should give them a safe home. Last year there was a lot of concern over black cats being harmed. I own an all-black British Bombay who is the sweetest, most laid back little girl, so it’s even more important to me to keep her safe and sound. I don’t ever want my cats to know “the street life” again, which is precisely why I adopted them. You save a life, but you also save bits of yourself in the process.

Also, I have a very dear friend in the hospital, and I want to make sure I say a special prayer for her recovery. I’m breaking out the big guns on this one! 🙂

So, if there isn’t another post this month, enjoy the holiday however you choose to embrace it and keep yourself and those you hold dear safe & sound.

Bright Blessings.

L

copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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Friendship -VS- “Friendship”: Sincerity Or Malice?

FRIENDSHIP -VS- “FRIENDSHIP”: SINCERITY OR MALICE?

If there’s anything I truly hate in this world, it’s people not knowing how to be decent friends. It takes two, truly. Both people have to be committed to the same cause, which is the core of the friendship and what it is built upon. Unfortunately, you will often find that the other person generally doesn’t know your intentions and you may not figure out theirs until it’s too late.

Throughout the course of my life I have had both friends and “friends”, and it’s fair to say that we all have. The latter are the bottom feeders in this world who only come to you with falseness in their hearts. They pretend to be genuine, but they’re either intimidated by you, scared of your strength, jealous of you, or never have good intentions towards anyone. Sometimes it’s a mass combination of all of the above, and so much more. They are the types of people that are 1000 shades of fucked up and, no matter how sweet, kind, entertaining, genuine, or funny they appear to be, they are hiding behind a facade and not only lying to you, but lying to themselves. They will seem selfless, but they’re selfish, self-possessed, and have cruelty and hatred residing within their souls, and they choose to take it out on people that do not deserve it, as opposed to directing it at those that do.

I can only use myself as an example here. I give a LOT to the relationships in my life. I don’t know any other way to be. Need advice? I’m your girl. Need help hiding a body? What body? No one will ever find it. I have helped friends whenever they have needed help, regardless of what that help entailed. I feel that is the right thing to do. I do not like seeing my friends struggle and suffer if I am in a position to do something about it. I will talk to you for hours about anything and nothing, and I will truly listen to you. I’m not on the other end of the phone rolling my eyes or making faces, I am fully engaged. I am loyal and I am devoted. In short, I know my worth and value in all things, but especially as a friend. It is one of the things in life I am most certain of.

A lot of missteps in friendship are based on poor communication. If you choose not to say something to someone when, and if, it bothers you, that is YOUR fault, not THEIRS. Take ownership of your short-comings. I have my own faults here too. Sometimes it will take me a few days, weeks, or months to call somebody out on something I feel was inappropriate, wrong, and/or offensive. I don’t allow disrespect. However, even if it takes me some time, I will still do it. I do not avoid confrontation, and I always feel better once I’ve clarified with someone what is, or isn’t, going on and how to come back to a good place. It doesn’t happen with every single friendship, sometimes a friendship has run its course, reached an end and that, too, is ok, but the effort still needs to be made.

If ever you want to end a friendship, as in all relationships, it is crucial to tell the other person. For one, it shows good manners and two, it brings closure to the relationship. It doesn’t matter if you were friends for three months, six months, a year, or if you’ve been friends for 30 years, have some fucking decency in your dealings with others, lest you gain a reputation for the way you handle your personal relationships. Especially with other women. I can assure you that women talk. If you’ve been a bitch to a woman and later become friends with someone she knows really well, she won’t hesitate to tell that friend exactly what your deal is. I’ve had more than one or two of my close friends warn me about other women, and they were always right. Thankfully, I wasn’t fully invested into the new people, so it wasn’t a big deal or the end of the world.

I always encourage people to communicate with me. If you don’t like something I’ve said, come to me and Spit.It.Out. Just be honest. You’re not sure what I meant by something? FUCKING ASK. Things like that frustrate me. I don’t like wasting my time with anyone, nor do I like it when people attach my name to bullshit stories that are fictional beyond words, and delusional by half.

If you have an issue with me, say it to my face. Be direct. Don’t run and hide like a toddler, and don’t tell lies. I may not be perfect, I’m certainly not winning any awards for warmth, fuzziness, or coddling, but at least I know what respect, loyalty, and real friendship is all about. Once I lose respect for you, you do not exist. If you close the door, I will put Wolverine’s adamantium claws on my end of the door so that if you ever try re-opening it, you get to hang on your own sword, and your own mistakes. That’s how it works. If you want to be someone’s friend, have honor and dignity. Unless you’re incredibly self-absorbed and shallow. I assure you, NO ONE wants a false friend.

Choosing to be a part of someone’s life as their friend is something so many take for granted. Extending the hand of friendship, to me, is a big deal. If you bite that hand, be prepared for what comes next. People often underestimate my nice factor, which I can tell you from experience, is limited. Treat people the way you want to be treated. If you want love and acceptance, be loving and accepting. If you want or need a certain thing in a friendship, as in any relationship, it is perfectly ok to ask for it. If you’re going through a rough time and you feel like you need a little extra emotional support, say so. Don’t expect everyone to be a mind reader, because the simple fact of the matter is, there’s no such thing as mind readers.

If friends or family treat you like shit and you always allow them to return to your life, you are allowing the behavior and accepting it. In fact, you’re encouraging the cycle to continue. Over time, you lose sight of what it’s like to be treated the right way. In the grand scheme, your acceptance of such negativity allows the chains to wrap around you. This extends to all relationships in ones’ life. Allowing bad behavior, accepting it, and never saying anything in response is encouraging it. If I, as your friend, have encouraged you to put your foot down and you ignore me, I lack sympathy when it continues to happen to you. Not because I’m a cruel person, but because you have been repeatedly given sound advice. I do not mince words and I do not suffer fools gladly. I mean what I say, unless I’m pissed, in which case I will probably say nothing until I cool off. If I am wrong and I know I am wrong, I will always apologize.

This was not written for any particular reason, so do not presume it is directed at you, the reader, in any way, shape, or form, except maybe in an advisory capacity. I’ve had this on my mind for a while and felt it cathartic to put it into action.

We have three different types of friends throughout the course of our lives, and in some instances, for many, many lives, until we learn our lessons and get it right. The different types of friends are “those for a reason, a season, or a lifetime”. If you’re going to be the type of friend to me that I am to you, then you’re ride or die, and you are in my life for a reason and a lifetime. I will always be loyal and devoted to you. However, if you’re only sticking around long enough to use me, please, fuck off now, and take your insane monkeys with you.

If one person is a flake, don’t take it personally. If one person is over-sensitive and cannot handle the truth, then that person needs to work on themselves and letting them fly is the best thing to do when they refuse to listen. Not every friendship is forever, but maybe that’s because the ones that are, are so much more valuable, and are built on a solid foundation, as opposed to being built on one person’s immediate interests.

In closing, I am incredibly GRATEFUL for the lovely, talented, graceful, elegant, mature, beautiful on the inside and outside, kind, generous, hilarious, devoted, loyal friends in my life. I can count them on two hands, but quality is far superior to quantity. Some have been a part of my life for a short period of time, but are no less special to me. Many have been with me for 18-25 years and, despite our imperfections and character flaws, despite agreeing to disagree, we love each other, we care about each other so very much, and we’d do anything for each other. A friend recently told me that I have been there for her through EVERYTHING, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and she thanks God for me. Another told me how people are always using her, but that I am the bright spot in her life. In friendship, things should be positive. If they aren’t, detox yourself from the poison. You’ll find a lot of clarity there.

copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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